View Full Version : Texas Raises Speed Limit To 80mph

06-06-2006, 06:40 PM

Texas Drivers Cruise at 80 Mph on I20

PECOS, Texas (AP) -- It was driving as usual for Steve Masters as he hit 80 mph along Interstate 20, the new speed limit along some wide-open stretches in rural Texas.

"Most people were going over 80 anyway," the 52-year-old El Paso resident said as he filled the tank of his sport utility vehicle at a gas station outside of Pecos in far West Texas. "Interstate roadways are built to handle a speed limit over 80 mph."

Texas now lays claim to the highest speed limit in the country. Lawmakers approved the increase from 75 mph to 80 mph last year, after transportation officials found that 85 percent of drivers were already going between 76 and 79 mph.

Signs indicating the change began going up along 521 miles of interstates in 10 sparsely populated counties just days after state transportation officials formally approved the increase late last month.

The limit is 80 mph on an 89-mile stretch of I-20 between Monahans and the Interstate 10 interchange at the edge of the Jeff Davis Mountains. Same for the 432 miles between Kerrville and El Paso on I-10. The stretches are mostly flat and straight and get far less traffic than other parts of Texas.

Some drivers and groups have questioned the increase, suggesting the move was shortsighted and will lead to more accidents and deaths. Jason Nickerson, 29, an out of-state-motorist, is among them.

"It doesn't matter if it's wide open or not," said Nickerson, who was returning to his Mesa, Ariz., home after a couple of months on the road. "Eighty, I think, is a little excessive. Cars are just as much a deadly weapon as a gun."

Texas transportation officials point to data that shows fatalities dropped when the speed limit was raised to 75 mph on some roads in 1999, which mirrored similar trends when the national 55 mph limit was boosted. Thirteen states have limits of at least 75 mph on some roads.

"It doesn't mean we aren't going to be watching the accidents out there, watching traffic," said Carol Rawson, deputy director for traffic operations for the Texas Department of Transportation. "If it's causing a problem, then we'll set the speed appropriately."

Masters, who was headed to Wichita Falls for a Shriners' convention, said cars are safer at higher speeds now because of front, rear and side airbags.

"If you're moving with the flow of traffic, I see no safety concerns," he said. "If you don't mind spending money on the gas, it's great."

Of course, the new speed limit doesn't come without a cost. The Department of Energy estimates that every 5 mph over 60 mph costs drivers an extra 20 cents per gallon - meaning pushing the pedal can get pricey in a period of high gas prices.

The higher limit applies to drivers of cars, light trucks and light trucks pulling trailers during daylight hours. Drivers of trucks, truck tractors, trailers, and semitrailers are limited to 70 mph. The limits drop to 65 mph after dark for all vehicles.

Some truckers can't come close to 70 mph. Earl Hawley, a West Virginia trucker, drives a company rig with an engine governor that won't allow him to surpass 68 mph. He'd go 80 mph if he could, the 49-year-old said while at a rest stop along I-20.

"It's more beneficial to me, timewise," said Hawley, who drives for a Murfreesboro, Tenn., company. "I get paid by the mile. It'd be more miles per hour I could cover."

But he can't, and predicts some hazards as a result.

"They're going to be going 85 to 90 mph," he said. "I'm going to have to drive on the shoulder."

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06-06-2006, 07:01 PM
Well I guess tats enough crying about the cost of gas then... If we can go as fast as we want ta hell with it we'll pay the extra! Good sheeple

06-06-2006, 11:21 PM
Well I guess tats enough crying about the cost of gas then... If we can go as fast as we want ta hell with it we'll pay the extra! Good sheeple

Hehe...Good one, the politicians were problably payed off to raise the speed limit.